Croatia's interior ministry is getting a 2.8 million kuna (€376,000) digital facial recognition system, the Jutarnji List daily said on Monday, enabling local police to dramatically speed up the cross-referencing of image and video data and identifying suspects.
Jutarnji List quoted the ministry saying that the tender had been launched in October, without giving any more details as the project is officially classified as secret. Although the local media had previously speculated that the ministry is getting sophisticated camera systems, the daily learned off the record that the latest tender involves facial recognition software.
This is the first time that Croatian police is buying biometric systems capable of identifying persons by comparing and analysing images of their facial features such as the shape of their lips, eyes, or nose, Jutarnji List said.
The technology would enable police to snap a picture of suspects or potentially groups of people and send them via tablet or mobile phone back to the command centre, where the software could quickly cross-reference the images with pictures of wanted persons already in the database.
The software can also analyse and cross-reference video footage taken from surveillance cameras. Jutarnji List speculates that the system could greatly improve the surveillance of hooligans at sporting events, or identifying suspects after bank robberies.
According to manufacturers of this type of equipment, the software used for this purpose is up to 90 percent accurate.
At the moment, Jutarnji List said, police officers still rely on cross-referencing images and videos manually, and the new softeware is expected to speed up the process signifcantly. The police, as well as the civil and military intelligence agencies SOA and VSOA, legally have access to footage from any surveillance camera installed anywhere in the country.
These include nearly 500 fixed and mobile public surveillance cameras installed around capital Zagreb, although Jutarnji List reports that the law enforcement and security agencies are not yet equipped to monitor these systems in real time.